Monday 28 August 2017

The Top 5 Guy Training Mistakes

Guys, it’s time you get the results you deserve. Too many guys waste countless hours of their life trying to build a better body and yet fail to do so. Why? Because they keep making the same mistakes as the guy on the bench next to them. Now you have a chance to be different than the next guy. To move forward with building your best body. However, you will only move forward on this quest if you take a different path than the next guy. To do that, you have to avoid these five common guy training mistakes.

Disclaimer: I know that it is generally a bad idea to make gender stereotypes. I'm sure there are plenty of guys out there who don't make any of these mistakes. Also, I'm sure there are plenty of ladies who make all of these mistakes. Please do not take offence if you find this post inappropriate for you. However, after almost 20 years as a trainer, I've seen guys make these five mistakes often enough that I feel this post will help many people and that is why I'm writing it.

1. Training just to be pretty
Right now, we are in this weird time in human history where guys care more about being pretty than they do about being strong. This was one of my pet peeves as University Strength Coach. I would walk by our general fitness center and find some of our male athletes in there doing triceps kickbacks and cable crossovers. Then I would walk into our Athlete training gym and work with female athletes who were way stronger than these guys. 

The sad thing for these guys is that they missed out – on everything. Most of them failed to gain any muscle. Those that did get bigger ended up being hurt and/or performing worse as an athlete. On the other hand, we had plenty of male athletes who cared about being better athletes. They followed our programs, gained 15, 20, 30 or even 40 pounds of muscle, AND improved their sports performance. Their aesthetic changes were a natural by-product of proper training and eating.  

Now I know you may not care about your vertical jump or your 10 meter sprint time and that’s fine. You don’t have to train exactly like an elite athlete if you just want to look good on the beach. However, even if all you want to do is look good, you still need to focus on getting stronger on big lifts. Small, pretty-boy isolation exercises only work under the following conditions:
  1. You are using drugs
  2. You are a genetic outlier who easily builds muscle
  3. You are young, stress-free and can spend your whole life in the gym
  4. You use them strategically and sparingly as a small addition to a program based on progressive overload with big, multi-joint movements.

In addition, if you have the choice between just looking strong or looking AND actually being strong, why not chose the latter? 

How you look is a combination of the following: 
  • Your genetics
  • Your health 
  • Your diet
  • Your strength 
  • Your training volume 
  • Your sleep habits
  • Your lifestyle choices

2. Thinking you can skip training legs because you run
The only guys who just run and have muscular legs are the ones who are born with muscular legs. If you have skinny legs, long-distance running will only make them skinnier. Big, strong, powerful legs are built with weights, not running. 

Sorry, this won't cut it!
Now I know that today’s fashion trends play a role in your desire to train legs. It’s not the 1970’s when guys wore Daisy Duke shorts (note: for those not old enough to have seen the Dukes of Hazard show or know who Daisy Duke is, these are really short shorts). Since most guys wear shorts that come down to their knees, there is a lacking desire to train your legs.

Unless you are genetically gifted and have a light bulb body type (i.e. naturally bigger upper body – see this post for more details), you won’t look or be strong without leg training. This is especially true if you are not using drugs. Intense leg training, not only builds your legs, but it increases your testosterone levels (note: this is important as this generation has a lot less testosterone than the previous generations). Your body grows as a unit and leg training sparks growth for your whole body! 

3. Hiding your chest with poor posture
One of the muscles that are obsessed with is the Pecs. While strong, powerful pecs are great, there are two problems with this: 1) most guys start with iPhone posture and 2) most guys don’t do enough back training. As a result, they develop nice pecs that no one can see.

A while back we had a basketball player who had to stop playing midseason because of back pain. I met with him to see if I could help. I took one look at his poor posture and new that I could play at least some role in helping him get back in the game. I designed a very aggressive postural correction program for him. Because we were in a midseason time crunch, I gave him no (i.e. 0) chest exercises. For the upper body, we simply hammered his upper back while stretching his chest. The result was his posture improved, his back felt better and he was able to play again. However, something interesting also happened. I looked at him and started to chuckle as I told him, "It looks like you just did a chest specialization program!"

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you stop your chest training. However, build your chest with your back and do so on a foundation of good posture. 

Do your best to maintain good posture throughout the day. In the gym, make sure you always do a set of rows before each set of chest. Then, finish your workouts with some extra upper back work such as reverse flies or face pulls. Stretch your chest after training and throughout the day.

4. Mistaking fat for mass
There is a difference between “big” and “muscular”. While there are plenty of skinny guys who refuse to eat for fear of losing their six-pack, there also plenty of guys who think they are “bigger” than they really are. 

For example, let’s say that Ed and Ted are both 6 feet tall. Ed weights 220lbs with 20% body fat. Ted weighs 195lbs at 10% body fat. Ed has 44lbs of fat and 176lbs of lean tissue. Ted has 19.5lbs of fat and 175.5lbs of lean tissue. While Ed looks bigger in clothes, they have the same amount of muscle. Also, at the beach, Ted will look more jacked because you can see his muscles more clearly. 

Hollywood actors do this all the time. Even a relatively small guy can look jacked when he is lean.

5. Thinking you can keep eating and drinking as usual
Many guys think that if they just hit the gym a few days a week, they can eat whatever they want. If only this was true! As I mentioned in the list above, your diet has a major impact on how you look, how you perform and in your overall health. 

Now I know that we can all find exceptions to this. Everyone has a great uncle who smoked a pack a day and lived on bacon and whiskey. Perhaps you heard the stories about how Arnold used to use beer as his post-workout drink. However, if you are reading this, these are stories are irrelevant for you since you are probably not one of these exceptions.   
Now I’m not saying you have to be a clean-eating zealot who never enjoys himself. However, you will never reach your goals without nutrition habits that line up with your goals. Do you want to look like you eat high-quality, whole, natural foods or look like you eat Twinkies, fries, and donuts?  

Guys, want more information about building a bigger, leaner AND stronger body? Check out these posts:

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